A landmark interfaith compound in the United Arab Emirates housing a new synagogue is set to open Thursday afternoon in a ceremony kicking off a series of events over the weekend.
The Abrahamic Family House, located on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, also contains a mosque and church. It was initially slated to open in 2022. The opening ceremony will be followed by a conference on Friday morning on relations between the faiths.
The local Jewish community will hold Shabbat prayers in the synagogue, led by Chief Rabbi Yehuda Sarna. An interfaith council to oversee projects advancing tolerance was formed as a result of the declaration, and named the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity. The Abrahamic Family House was its first initiative.
“This is an important opportunity for all who believe in the power of faith and humanity. It will help build bridges between religious leaders and communities as well as foster peace and harmony in an era that is too often defined by difference,” said Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, senior rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation, and a Jewish representative of the committee.
The UAE normalized relations with Israel in 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords brokered by the administration of former US president Donald Trump. The design for the Abrahamic Family House, by the renowned architect David Adjaye, was unveiled during a meeting in New York in 2019, the second for the committee.
The UAE is already home to a synagogue in Dubai, formed in 2008. The new state-sanctioned synagogue would mark a significant step forward for public worship of Judaism in the Gulf state.
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